Join for another full day of learning at our 2019 Summer Yom Iyyun. The day will begin with Shaharit and breakfast and will conclude in the afternoon with Minhah. Registration costs $80 and includes a vegetarian breakfast and lunch.
Hiyyuv: Embracing Jewish Obligation
Jews traditionally believe that we are born into a covenant and its attendant obligations. What does that mean and where do those obligations stem from? Why are we obligated to do what God asks? Together we will explore such questions as:
- Jewish tradition assumes that rabbis are invested with the authority to determine Jewish law—why should we follow their decisions and defer to their judgment?
- Can we be obligated to feel or believe?
- Judaism says that we have an extensive set of interpersonal obligations—what do we owe other people and why?
- Is religiously grounded morality different from secular morality?
All programming will take place on New York's Upper West Side
9:00 Light Breakfast
9:30 Opening, Welcome with Rabbi Avi Killip
10:00 Two Class Options
Truth and Obligation: When must we decide for ourselves?—Dena Tannor Weiss
Generally, we associate the Torah with instruction and guidelines for what we should and should not do or say. Although the guidelines are often subject to dispute and it can be unclear which opinion to follow, rarely does the Torah say, "it's up to you." A significant and fascinating exception to this rule is the case of lying in order to spare the feelings of another. There, the Rabbinic approach is largely to encourage us to trust our instincts when deciding to deviate from the generally encouraged path of truthfulness. What are the contours and limits of this exception and what does it teach us about the necessity and the limits of obligation?
Entering into Covenant: Obligations of Friendship in this Life and the Next—Rabbi Tali Adler
Rabbinic literature is rich with relational metaphors for the covenant, likening it to parenthood, marriage, land ownership, all relationships reinforced by social and legal recognition and obligations. In this class we will explore stories of extralegal commitments and relationships in Tanach and rabbinic literature, including the story of Rabbi Meir and Elisha ben Abuyah. We will examine the nature of promises in these stories, what they tell us about the extent of human commitment, and how these relationships can help us understand the covenant between God and the Jewish people.
11:30 Plenary Session
“And Those Not With Us Here Today” - Reflections on Obligation and the Nature of the Jewish People’s Covenant with God—Rabbi Ethan Tucker
The Torah does not leave much room for choice in our relationship with God, at least not in its fundamentals. The terms of the covenant are not subject to the line-item veto of individuals and they span the generations without even soliciting the consent of those born after Sinai. We will conduct close readings of the Biblical passages that lay out this approach, engage rabbinic sources that reveal this perspective and follow up with the radical reevaluation of this entire framework that increasingly defines contemporary American Judaism.
2:00-3:15 Three Class Options
All Israel are responsible for each other – Really?—Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
In this session we will explore the complex history of the concept of “kol yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh” – all Israel are responsible for each other. What does that practically mean? How does this phrase move beyond a rallying cry/slogan and into a deep depiction of the way in which Jews can (must?) relate to each other.
(Why) Should We Care What God Wants?—Rabbi Shai Held
In this session, we'll explore a crucial question that frequently goes unasked: why should we, as human beings and as Jews, care what God wants of us? We'll see how Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrestled with this question and we'll compare his approach to the way the Torah itself engages with it. Along the way, we'll ask: what's the relationship between our obligations as Jews and our obligations as human beings?
Mehadrin B’Ivrit (Hebrew Language Session)—Rabbi Dudi Goshen
3:30 Closing Plenary Session
Because I Said So: When Hiyyuv Falls Short—Rabbi Avi Strausberg
To some modern ears, the concept of hiyyuv as narrowly defined as obedience or obligation to God fails to resonate and spark us to action. In this session, we'll dig deeper into the questions: what motivates us to perform mitzvot and to what and whom are we really obligated as we attempt to articulate alternative language for hiyyuv that informs a life of mitzvot and resonates with our internal compass.
4:45 Closing Remarks (Rabbi Elie Kaunfer) and Minhah